Reminiscing on Easter

Easter is a special time for me.  To me, God suddenly becomes more real, more present, more… believable.  It’s something I think I need, if I’m to keep going, keep believing.

Last year at Easter, I talked about doubt, about how I struggle with the difference between believing and knowing, how religious feeling doesn’t feel very strongly to me.

In the past year, I’ve thought about that a lot.  Why can’t I feel religious, why can’t I experience a closeness with God?  Somehow, God must have been reading my thoughts, because my Sunday school class started considering those questions.

In the fall, we spent a couple weeks studying Knitter’s Without Buddha I Could Not Be a Christian.  At the time, I thought it hippy-dippy bullshit, but I was intrigued by Knitter’s voyage and his insight into meditation and contemplation.  Evidently, other people in the class had similar thoughts, and the teachers decided that this spring would be an extended study on Christian contemplative tradition.

In short, contemplative Christianity is about emptying one’s self and inviting God into that space.  The first step, meditation, has a lot in common with other practices.  The later steps, contemplation and the experience of God in that prepared space, I can’t tell you much about – it still seems vague to me, weird.  All the books we’ve studied – from Theresa of Avila’s work and John of the Cross’s poetry – explain types of experiences and existences that I’ve never had myself.

When we began these studies, I was completely horrified.  I couldn’t do it at all.  I couldn’t focus on nothing, couldn’t figure out even what the teachers meant.  But I kept trying.  When I thought I’d gotten at least the first step and figured out how to meditate, even in a very limited capacity, I realized that it was possible to pursue this route to religiosity.  For Lent, I decided to try at least 5 minutes of contemplative-type prayer per day.

I don’t know if I’ve gotten any closer to God.  I might never succeed at being a true contemplative, but you know?  I am way better at falling asleep now.  Before this experiment began, it would take me an hour or more after lying down and trying to sleep before I would actually fall asleep.  Now?  5 minutes of contemplative prayer before bed, and I can pretty easily drift off.  That alone has been worth it.

What’s better, I’ve gotten to a point where I can get super stressed at work, then go sit at my desk and put myself into this calmer place.  I don’t understand how that works, but I’m just going to take it and run.

I don’t think it was an empty pursuit.  There’s something in this meditation and contemplation, and perhaps I’ll try to continue the practice.  I’ve long ago given up on experiencing God in this lifetime, so I don’t expect that, but even Theresa of Avila says that the very beginning levels of contemplation can give us fruits of our labor.  Even those entry-prayers are good.

This Easter, I will spend a good amount of time on contemplative prayer.  I am thankful that American marketing and capitalism hasn’t ruined this holiday for me like it has Christmas (wow is Christmas stressful!), and I hope to use this time appropriately.  Because Easter isn’t so culturally pervasive, it’s easier worship in a personal manner.

I would love to hear your comments – about faith, doubt, contemplation, meditation, what have you! – but unfortunately, I won’t be online on this sacred day.  I wrote this post beforehand so that I could take the day off.  But I will be bright eyed and bushy-tailed tomorrow, ready to take on anything you may say.

Once again, blessings to you this day, and a marvelous weekend to those who believe in other faiths or choose not to believe in anything.

Holiday – #Tanka

gold christmas ball decor

A spark of bliss lights
Candles, hearts, and bulbs alike.
Feed a warming fuel
Of faith into the flames
That boost our spirits ties!


This was written for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday #116, Belief and Joy!  On this Christmas, which is the holiday I personally celebrate, I wanted to posit a poem that is a bit more secular so everyone could enjoy it.  Have an excellent holiday, everyone!

Night Hush – #Tanka

white angel illustration

Like owl’s wings hushed
Angels glide o’er snowy homes.
From whence this chorus?
All these saintly voices hum
The joyous season we’ll know!


This was written for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday #115, Fly and Sing!  I enjoy Christmas Carols, and I love the idea of angels singing quiet carols that lift the spirits.  Go check out the large portion of poems on the Tanka Tuesday post.

Run – #Tanka

people doing marathon

I strive for greatness
To cross the finish in first
So when I must lose,
I question racing at all
Then gather my breath and run


This was written for Colleen’s Tanka Tuesday #114, Try and Life!  The prompt reminded me of 1 Corinthians, 9:24: 

Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize.

The point of the verse isn’t necessarily to literally win footraces, but to realize that your life will end, and to live the best life possible.  Never give up!

When The Saints

white angel illustration

Voices sing in praise
I follow the joyous sound
And see the cohort
Of saintly choir members
From behind the pearly gates


This was written for Colleen Cheseboro’s Weekly Tanka Tuesday #111 – ‘Celebrate and Number.’  When I saw the prompt words, I was reminded of the classic hymn ‘When the Saints Come Marching In’ and allowed that to inspire this week’s tanka. 

Drown the Sins Away

landscape lake hd wallpaper

They went down to the river, their bodies draped in white.  Their voices sang so sweetly I nearly forgot I was a creature of darkest night.

My vessel in his robes walked down the curling path.  The preacher woman held up her old hand and drew my vessel near.  “Come here to me, my sweet child, your time is finally here.”

I clenched tight inside this submerged tomb, water holding me down.  When the preacher lifted him I remained behind, a demon that had been drowned.


This was written for the Sammi Cox weekend writing prompt #75, submerge.  As a good Baptist (who is leaving for church in about 20 minutes), I immediately thought about baptism when I saw the word.  I put a little Halloween twist on it – hope you enjoy!

Faith on Tap – Mrs. Phillips

inriI don’t remember if it was 2010 or 2011 when my (now) mother in law called us and said her friend, Mrs. Phillips, had tested positive for breast cancer again.  It didn’t hit me very hard at the time, since I’d only met her (maybe) twice when I’d visited the in-laws and went to church with them, but I agreed to pray for her and keep her in my thoughts.

In 2012 Mrs. Phillips’ grandson (one of the few children I knew at the time – it was back before all our friends got married and had babies) was the ring bearer at our wedding.  I remember seeing her and feeling bad for making her take off work to bring him to the rehearsal.  I didn’t share any words with her, though, and left her to interact with my mother in law.

And that was the last time I saw her.  My mother in law periodically reminded me to keep praying for Mrs. Phillips, and I got updates every so often.  In 2016 I received the news that she was given six months if she didn’t accept treatment (radiation and chemo was presented as an option to her – one with poor outlook), but she elected to take the treatment and continue raising the grandson who had been our ring bearer.  Her goal was to see him graduate high school and become a man.

Living in the South, the Great American Eclipse of 2017 was a big deal.  My mother in law invited us to go to South Carolina with her and Mrs. Phillips to watch the eclipse, but neither could afford to take off work (still young enough to have built up very little vacation time).  Mrs. Phillips and my in-laws continued to converse and attend events together.  When Mrs. Phillips was finally forced to quit her job, my mother in law attended her retirement party.  I heard about it all secondhand.

Last week everyone heard from her daughter (not the mother of the ringbearer grandson) that Mrs. Phillips had been given 3 months to live… back in February.  Mrs. Phillips hadn’t told anyone, not even her daughter or grandson.  It was only when death was imminent and plans needed to be made that she said anything.

She died in the morning on Monday, July 30th.

Since 2010 or 2011, back when I first heard about her sickness, I’ve been praying for this woman every single day.  Sometimes it was part of a nearly rote ritual, and other times – like when my in-laws had an update – it was with fervent desire to keep her alive.

Her grandson enters high school next month, after all.  She wanted to live.

I feel almost crass posting this right now, but I have been thinking a lot about the power of prayer.  People keep saying things like how effective prayer is, and others about how ‘thoughts and prayers’ don’t make anything happen.

I prayed for Mrs. Phillips many, many times.  Did it have an effect?  As far as I can tell, her disease took its toll in about the expected time and imparted about the average level of pain and suffering.  I can’t determine if my prayers had any physical effect at all and, as you can tell, she still died.  I won’t know in this lifetime.

I’ve rarely met her, and yet whenever I got a sparse update and especially when I heard she was dying, I felt like I knew her.  I became connected to this woman, over the course of multiple years, in a way that only God could have orchestrated.  Even if my prayers served to grant her nothing in this lifetime, I can’t help but feel like she’ll know about the connection.  There’s something God allowed to happen between us.

Is it all in my head?  I’m sure psychology would show that constant hopeful thoughts will make this kind of dent in my psyche, but I’m not sure that matters.  Prayer presented an opportunity to commune with God and Mrs. Phillips, and without it she would have gone in and out of my life as if never there.

My spouse and in-laws are all Catholic, and they’re still praying for Mrs. Phillips.  As a Baptist, though, I’m not – to me, her race is finished and there’s nothing I can do for her while I’m trapped on Earth.  I stopped praying for her Monday night and switched to praying for those she left behind.  I felt… different.  Not relieved, not sad, merely different.  My relationship with her just changed very suddenly.

So yes, I believe my prayers had an effect.  I believe that thoughts and prayers do change something, even something you can’t see.  Thank you, Mrs. Phillips, for being there for me.

3 Day Quote Challenge – Day 3

Thanks to Marnie of the Marnie Writes blog, who led me to do this challenge.


  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day) (I’m going to fail – I’m doing a Monday-Wednesday-Friday).
  • Share why this quote appeals so much to you.
  • Nominate 3 different bloggers for each day (Whaaaaat I must know more people now!)

My Quote:


There is an art to flying, or rather a knack. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.” — Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

Whenever I trip, I use the excuse that I’m learning to fly.  With a little anklebiter dog, I’ve come to need this quote more than I used to.

Hitchiker’s Guide to the Galaxy was also the first book I bought for my beloved.  You know you’re the best, dear, and I’m so glad you read my blog.  Our anniversary is soon, and I’m excited for the trip you’ve planned.  Also I bought a sword, and it’s coming in the mail.  I love you.

My Tags:

First off, please – if you’re tagged, don’t feel pressure to reply or participate.  If you’re reading, these are good blogs to follow.

I met Miriam Hurdle through Charli Mills’s Carrot Ranch and the Flash Fiction contests.  Whether she wants to participate or not, Miriam is a sweet lady who I want you to visit because she deserves your patronage.  Dude, I hope her blog takes over the world.  You want to feel good?  Visit her cute stories.

Shadoriverdaleharley doesn’t know me, but daaaaamn, she/he/they can read up a storm!  I’m always impressed at their ferocious speed.

Lastly, I’ll tag Joanne of geekgirlblog.  This is mostly for selfish purposes, because I want more Sky-Pirates, haha.



3 Day Quote Challenge – Day 2



Secondly, I happened to follow the Marnie Writes blog, and I wanted to do this challenge.


  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day) (I’m going to fail – I’m doing a Monday-Wednesday-Friday).
  • Share why this quote appeals so much to you.
  • Nominate 3 different bloggers for each day (Whatever we’ll see)

My Quote:

In a life rich with national partying and spontaneous murder, Jackson’s only regret was that he didn’t kill quite enough people. People like John C. Calhoun, who was Jackson’s Vice President.” — Dan O’Brien

I’m a pretty big fan of Andrew Jackson.  Not his policies, but just in how interesting and filled with utter lunacy that guy was.  Daniel O’Brian, of old-school fame, wrote How to Fight Presidents and made the video above as a sort of teaser for it.  I thought he captured the exact spirit of why I liked learning about Jackson in high school, and why I think he’s still crazy interesting now.

Also, ‘MURICA!

My Tags:

First off, please – if you’re tagged, don’t feel pressure to reply or participate.  If you’re reading, these are good blogs to follow.

I’ll tag E. Kathryn, who has a book that’s NEARLY FINISHED!  She also likes some tag games, and maybe this is something she’d enjoy (for Twitter if not for blogging).

Next, I’ll mention the Random Blog.  As a book blogger, Hannah J. Russel probably knows a lot of good quotes.  She has a lot of manga reviews, too, and I hope to look at some of her suggestions!

Biswadeep of the Pretentious Panda’s Blog has a lot of quick stories that I really enjoy.  He also curates some interesting life stories and quotes, so I’ll tag him in case he wants to participate.

3 Day Quote Challenge – Day 1

I happened to follow the Marnie Writes blog, and I wanted to do this challenge.  I’ve decided that my blog isn’t very personal, and perhaps this will be a way to be a little more accessible as a person.


  • Thank the person who nominated you.
  • Post a quote for three consecutive days (1 quote for each day) (I’m going to fail – I’m doing a Monday-Wednesday-Friday).
  • Share why this quote appeals so much to you.
  • Nominate 3 different bloggers for each day (Whatever we’ll see)

My Quote:


“Man, this time these crackers have gone too far!” — Bullhorn, from the movie Black Dynamite

The context of this quote matters.  If you look at the face of the guy on the left (Saheed), you’ll recognize that the main cast are considering putting Tiny Tim out of his misery for the pain inflicted by the white man.  This movie don’t never stop, it keeps going to the tippy tippy top!

I fucking love the movie Black Dynamite.  One of my best friends in college was the person who showed it to me, and somehow he managed to keep himself from spoiling the twist ending.  For my bajillionth viewing, we watched it at my pre-wedding party.  When I put the Black Dynamite DVD on my wedding registry (yeeeeahhhh, that went over well), my friend answered this desperate call and hooked me up with it.  My 6th anniversary comes up this month, so I had to do something in celebration of that.

My Tags:

First off, please – if you’re tagged, don’t feel pressure to reply or participate.  If you’re reading, these are good blogs to follow.

I remember talking with Carrie Ann Golden on her Captain Kirk quote.  I think she may enjoy this challenge, but most of all I hope you enjoy her blog!  Filled with memories and really intense feelings, I try to keep up with her pretty solidly.

I think the WebWeavers – a group of people who spin fantastic book reviews – may have a set of quotes they’d enjoy sharing.

Last but not least, there’s always my friend, Tom Darby, who you should check out.  I love his comedic flash fiction, and I thoroughly enjoyed his western mini-series.